The escalating conflict has worsened the famine threat in South Sudan’s Equatoria regions as thousands of farmers and families are forced to abandon their homes, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
In a statement on Monday, NRC said the killing of civilians has also disrupted planting for farmers at a time when 60% of the population is suffering from acute food insecurity.
NRC called on all parties to the conflict to urgently resolve tensions and avoid accelerating the risk of famine.
“Civilians have been killed and displaced due to fresh violence over the last month, exacerbating a genuine famine threat as farmers and families are forced to abandon their homes.
“All parties should end the violence and allow unfettered access to aid organizations, otherwise we risk witnessing a humanitarian crisis not seen in the country for years,” said Mark Millar, Policy Analyst for NRC in South Sudan.
Truck drivers from neighboring countries are unable to deliver supplies and humanitarian workers are unable to provide aid due to fighting in the war-torn country, NRC said, adding that at least 1,500 people have sought shelter in the town of Yei.
Many South Sudanese remain trapped in the bush and thousands are believed to have fled into neighboring Uganda, according to NRC.
Founded in July 2011, South Sudan has been hit by years of conflict.
Despite glimmers of hope following the signing of a peace agreement in 2018, conflict, violence and displacement are again becoming a day-to-day reality in South Sudan.
In March, the country’s government began a series of security operations against the National Salvation Front (NAS) rebel group in the southern part of Central Equatoria State.
Around 235,000 people are currently displaced in Central Equatoria and the number looks set to increase as conflict continues. Approximately 50,000 people are displaced in Eastern Equatoria, according to NRC.